Center for Jewish Farming Colony Receives $100,000 Grant
Galloway, N.J. — When Patricia Chappine started working a year ago as a temporary employee with Stockton University’s Alliance Heritage Center, it was basically a two-person operation.
“It’s been pretty much me, the center’s director, Tom Kinsella, and a few of his interns,” said the adjunct History professor about the center’s work to create a digital museum of the Alliance Colony, the first successful Jewish farming village in the United States.
A new $100,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation will go a long way toward expanding the center’s message, providing more experiential learning opportunities for students and making physical improvements to the colony’s site, which was founded in 1882 in Pittsgrove Township, Salem County.
Steven Marcus, right, the coordinator of Stockton’s Holocaust and Genocide Dual Credit program, talks to students from Egg Harbor Township High School during a field trip to the Alliance Colony Cemetery in Pittsgrove Township, Salem County in April. The group also toured a Holocaust memorial at the cemetery site.
The colony was established by 43 Jewish families fleeing persecution from Russia and Eastern Europe. The center’s archives include several physical and digital collections, including manuscripts, naturalization papers, newspapers, deeds, maps, land surveys, synagogue records, photographs and oral history interviews. It also includes the bound writings of Moses Bayuk, one of the colony’s founding members.
The grant will allow Stockton undergraduate and graduate students to be involved in the creation and installation of permanent and traveling exhibits outlining the Alliance Colony’s history and develop a public lecture series featuring community members to “tell people what we are doing and hopefully generate more interest,” Chappine said.
“We want to take the next step beyond the digital museum,” Kinsella said. “What the Mellon Foundation grant is going to allow us to do is bring a lot more students into the process of researching Alliance’s history. They are going to gain research, writing, editing and exhibition skills as they work with this material.”
Chappine ’06, MA ’09, said one of the only remaining structures from the colony is the Alliance Chapel. Its current historic display is 40 years old and needs considerable updating.
“We are using the Alliance Colony as a springboard to consider more broadly the history of immigrant communities in the South Jersey area,” Chappine said. “Even though this is specifically about Jewish agriculture, their story really echoes in other communities throughout the generations and throughout New Jersey. It’s important to make those broad connections, too.”
What the Mellon Foundation grant is going to allow us to do is bring a lot more students into the process of researching Alliance’s history. They are going to gain research, writing, editing and exhibition skills as they work with this material.”
Students will also contribute to a traveling exhibit that Chappine would like to display at various educational institutions and Jewish community centers in southern New Jersey and in the greater Philadelphia area.
“This is taking history out of the textbook and presenting it in a way that’s dynamic and relevant to the public,” Chappine said.
Two major gifts to the Stockton University Foundation helped establish the Alliance Heritage Center in 2019. A $500,000 gift from an anonymous donor established a fund for the Elizabeth and Samuel Levin Director of the center. A $200,000 gift from Bernard and Shirlee Greenblatt Brown and their children created a research endowment. Learn more about the Alliance Heritage Center.
About the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at mellon.org.
- Story by Mark Melhorn